Remembering Japanese cars from the past

TOM’S Angel T01: angel or unicorn? [JDM Trivia #9]

JDM Trivia #9

Today’s trivia will be all about the TOM’S Angel T01. Gred_cz guessed the teaser entirely correct: the car in the teaser clip is indeed the TOM’S Angel T01 and the tail lights are indeed borrowed from the E90 generation Corolla FX. I recognized the car in the video from my Gran Turismo 2 days when this car was one of the prize cars you could obtain if you won the Pure Sports Cars Cup located on Laguna Seca Raceway.
JDM Trivia #9: TOM'S Angel T01


TOM’S always has been a tuning garage where they take an existing car, only Toyota in their case, strip and modify it into a high performance race car, or a de-tuned street version.

Mid engined sports car

You could argue that TOM’S counterpart for Nissan would be Tommy Kaira. They also take mostly Nissan cars and modify them into high performance race cars. The analogy even goes further: both have made an attempt to create their own light weight mid-engined sports car from the ground up. Both of them had their mid-engined sports cars manufactured in Great Britain. For Tommy Kaira that car was named the ZZ while TOM’S attempt was named the Angel T01.

TOM’S Angel T01

TOM’S wanted to celebrate their 20th anniversary in 1994 by launching their own mid-engined rear wheel drive sports car roughly the size of a kei car. In 1991 they gave orders to their British subdivision to start building such a car under supervision of Martin Ogivie. It took roughly three years to develop the Angel sourcing parts from the Toyota parts bin, hence the E90 Corolla FX tail lights. You would expect TOM’S would have used AW11 MR2 suspension parts as the Angel is also a mid-engined car. Instead their British subdivision, who also manufactured Formula 3 chassis, created a full carbon fibre and FRP monocoque on a steel subframe with a fully independent wishbone suspension on all four corners.

Borrowed 4AGE Silvertop

One of the parts they did take from Toyota was the five valve 4A-GE silvertop and gearbox from the AE101 Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno. The silvertop was capable of delivering an output of 158ps which is 4ps higher than Toyota rated it. The instrumentation existed of a large tachometer and an LCD panel that showed the speed, water temperature, oil temperature and pressure. There is no power steering but you probably won’t miss that with a sub 700 kilogram car and 195/50 tire size up front.


TOM’S expected to sell a few hundred cars for $42,000 each and presented the prototype to the public on the 1994 Tokyo Motor Salon. However in 1992 the Japanese bubble economy collapsed and by 1994 the recession was at its peak: there was simply no demand for an exotic like the Angel. TOM’S canned the project and this prototype is the only TOM’S Angel ever built: the Angel became a unicorn.

Lucky owner

Some lucky guy was able to buy it from Yahoo Auctions for an unknown sum of money, but it probably was all worth it. For as what I have found is that the car has been restored to its original state. There has been only one change applied to this car: its silvertop has been swapped for a blacktop.

Teaser for next time: What do these photos have in common? Regular visitors will know the answer. Leave your comments below!

Direct link to video

1 Comment

  1. Michael K

    Great article. On paper, Tom’s Angel T01 seems brilliant, but in my experience (in GT 2) it doesn’t quite live up to expectations even when fully tuned, but perhaps I’m “doing it wrong”, so to speak. I won it again just to re-modify and tune it (again) as I’d deleted it in disgust earlier, but this time I’m tuning w/a with a different emphasis and will switch up my driving tactics as well to determine if I can bring out its apparent potential. In any event, glad someone wrote this car up so well. Great work, and thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑